How to Become a Tech-Wise Family

  • by Andy Crouch

Technology is literally everywhere in our homes — not only the devices in our pockets but the invisible electromagnetic waves that flood our homes.

The pace of technological change has surpassed anyone’s capacity to develop enough wisdom to handle it. The challenge we face is this: if we don’t learn to put technology, in all its forms, in its proper place, we will miss out on many of the best parts of life in a family.

Courtesy of Barna Group

Technology in its proper place helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love. It's out of its proper place when we end up bonding with people at a distance.

Technology in its proper place starts great conversations. It’s out of its proper place when it prevents us from talking with and listening to one another.

Technology is in its proper place when we use it with intention and care. But technology doesn’t stay in its proper place on its own. It finds its way underfoot all over the house and all over our lives like my children’s toys and minor treasures. If we aren’t intentional and careful, we’ll end up with quite an extraordinary mess.

Courtesy of Barna Group

What if you chose to try the  “10 commitments” for a healthy family life with technology? These commitments are a starting point for nudging and disciplining ourselves in a better direction.

The 10 commitments begin with three choices that are especially fundamental.

Choose character. Make the mission of your family, for children and adults alike, the cultivation of wisdom and courage.

Shape space. Make choices about the place where you live that put the development of character and creativity at the heart of your home.

Structure time. Build rhythms into your life on a daily, weekly and annual basis. These rhythms make it possible for you to get to know your family, God and your world in deeper ways.

10 Tech-Wise Commitments

  1. We develop wisdom and courage together as a family.
  2. We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
  3. We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play and rest together.
  4. We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
  5. We aim for “no screens before double digits” at school and at home.
  6. We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
  7. Car time is conversation time.
  8. Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
  9. We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
  10. We show up in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. We hope to die in one another’s arms.
     

Here is a printable PDF of the 10 commitments. Why not stick them to your fridge so your family can discuss which you want to address first?

I think the best part of tech-wise parenting, for me, has been its focus on “something older and better than the newest thing.” The key word is better. Tech-wise parenting isn’t simply intended to eliminate technology but to put better things in its place.

Technology promises that it can provide wonder. Take a picture with the proper filters and you’ll be awestruck — it will look better than real life! But this promise is deceptive. My iPhone’s wonder generators, from Instagram to Temple Run, turn out to be only distractions from the things that really spark wonder.

Thanks to tech-wise parenting, I’ve discovered a world out there that is better than anything technology can offer — as close as our front lawn.

— Amy Crouch, the author's daughter, in the foreword to “The Tech-Wise Family”


Next steps in developing a healthy relationship with technology:

Excerpted from “The Tech-Wise Family” by Andy Crouch. ©2017. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. www.bakerpublishinggroup.com


About the Author: Andy Crouch is shaping the way our generation sees culture, creativity and the gospel. Andy was an editor and producer at Christianity Today for more than 10 years, including serving as executive editor from 2012 to 2016. His work and writing have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Time.